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Policy & Regulatory Briefing: Energy Star, Chemical Reporting, EPA Seeks Waste Rule Comments

Rep. Mike Honda (D-Calif.) on Monday introduced the Smart Electronics Act (HR 2748) to direct the Department of Energy and the EPA to determine if cell phones, gaming consoles, and MP3 players could be added to the Energy Star program, the Hill said. Devices bearing a “smart” designation would consume less energy and provide the private sector with reliable standards and incentives, Honda said.

The EPA’s new Chemical Data Reporting rule will require chemical manufacturers to report critical information more often and submit new and updated information related to potential exposures, current production volume, manufacturing site data, and processing and use data for more chemicals, the agency said. The rule will take effect at the next  reporting period, February 1, 2012 to June 30, 2012.

The EPA has issued a Federal Register notice asking for comments on its role in the measurement of materials in municipal solid waste streams, construction and demolition materials, and non-hazardous industrial materials as well as the sustainable management of these materials through recycling, waste minimization and source reduction. The deadline to submit comments is 4:30 p.m. EST on August 31.

Senate Democrats will pursue clean energy goals as part of a broader jobs agenda when lawmakers return from their August recess, Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has said, according to the Hill.

Pete Domenici, a former senator from New Mexico, and Warren Miller, a former head of Department of Energy nuclear research, will lead the first meeting on nuclear energy today at the Bipartisan Policy Center, a new think tank, the Hill reported. The initiative includes a series of events through 2012 that explore issues surrounding nuclear power and a strategic document that identifies what policies will be needed to ensure nuclear power remains viable in the United States.

In testimony on Tuesday before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, Nuclear Regulatory Commission members indicated six safety regulations could be reevaluated quickly, the Hill said. An Obama administration task force has recommended 12 changes and commissioners said they should be able to address half of those, including reevaluating seismic and flooding hazards at nuclear power plants and reviewing severe accident management guidelines.

An International Energy Agency report says that carbon pricing does not seem to address all the barriers, including imperfect information, principal-agent problems, and behavioral failures, to implementing energy efficiency policies. The report notes that energy performance standards and labeling, consumer feedback tools, awareness-raising efforts, and contractual support for the construction of low energy buildings do address these barriers and should be used in conjunction with carbon pricing.

Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu on Tuesday said the agency will invest $50 million over two years to assist the domestic photovoltaic manufacturing industry with SUNPATH (Scaling Up Nascent PV At Home). The program is designed to help companies with pilot-scale commercial production scale up in an effort to regain the country’s declining solar market share.

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